‘You must allow me to have my way, Johnson,’ said Mary. ’Sit down now and eat; then rest. You will need the little money you have, and more too, to recruit your health, for you must not dream of working again until you are strong. I will send what is necessary, and some one to mind the children; Edward, will you walk home with me?’ and before the man could reply, not giving him time to utter a word of thanks, she took the arm of the youth and quitted the cottage. The man knelt down on the floor, and famishing as he was, prayed for a blessing on her head ere he touched the food that was there. Another had been a witness to this interview. Looking through the casement was the visage of the mariner, no longer stern, but moved with unutterable emotion, and tears, yes, tears trickling down his weather-beaten cheeks. This soon ceased, however, and a frown dark and terrible passed over his face; his powerful frame quivered, then settled down into one look of deep, determined, implacable resolve. He entered the hut, and laying the agent’s receipt upon the chest, quitted without a word.
The sun had set about an hour on the evening of the same day, when Mr. Lambert, with two stout attendants, set out from his residence on the outskirts of the village, and took his way through the intervening wood towards the sea shore. The two men with him were London officers, adepts at thief catching, resolute and determined; they were well armed, but bore no badge of their occupation outside. The agent had screwed his courage to the point of accompanying them, with some difficulty, but he was well aware that if they failed in capturing their man, he would have to encounter the nobleman’s rage, and he feared the loss of his favor more than the chance of being shot or stabbed by Hunter; but he knew well it was an errand of no small danger he was upon; yet they were three to one, and he counted much upon the instructions he had given to Curly Tom; much also on Hunter’s habit of drink, still he felt by no means easy and would have given much then to have been quietly in his bed; not so the officers; they were in high glee, the prospect of a desperate encounter being by men inured to deal with ruffians as they were, but small in comparison with the hope of a large reward.
They proceeded in silence, however—the agent, who was perfectly familiar with the way, leading. They soon emerged into the open country, and after a few miles began to ascend, and felt the keen air from the sea blow upon their faces—the path soon became rugged and uneven, but sloping towards the sea. In a short time they reached the beach. Here they dismounted and tied their beasts up under a shed, placed there for the purpose of drying fish. There was no moon, but it was a bright starlight night, and the tide was out. Creeping cautiously along, they skirted the base of a large cliff which projected